Stopping polio transmission by end of 2014 realistic, says Independent Monitoring Board

Today marks a year since the continent has reported a new case of the viral disease. But more continued support is critical before it is certified polio-free.

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) reports that "stopping polio transmission by the end of 2014 is a realistic prospect." The IMB, which met 7-9 May, independently verifies progress toward the achievement of a polio-free world.

In its report, the IMB commended the Global Polio Eradication Initiative for changes that have helped reduce polio to the lowest levels ever.

"All of those who work towards polio eradication should be proud of what they have achieved over the last two years," the report stated. "The prospects of achieving interruption of polio transmission globally have been transformed by their work."

The IMB also underscored that further steps need to be taken.

"Whilst the poliovirus has been knocked down, it is certainly not knocked out," the report stated.

The IMB highlighted three specific areas the GPEI needs to address, and made recommendations to the remaining endemic countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria – as well as for responding to the outbreak in the Horn of Africa.

On financing, the IMB commended the US$4 billion in pledges made at the Global Vaccine Summit in April. To fully fund the $5.5 billion Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-18, however, the IMB cautioned that "the remaining $1.5 billion for the life of the new [plan] needs to be found, and that pledged funds must quickly reach the frontline."

In response to the report, Rotary International and the other GPEI global partners – the World Health Organization, UNICEF, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – are exploring integration of the recommendations into the polio eradication effort.

Rotary News